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February 6, 2014

NSU’s Charles Ford to Speak on 60-Year Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education for Black History Month

topstory1-lgCharles H. Ford
By Kam Nedd

In celebration of Black History Month at Old Dominion, Charles H. Ford will present "Sixty Years After Brown - The Triumphs and Tragedies of Public School Desegregation" Tuesday, Feb. 11.

Ford, professor and chair of the history department at Norfolk State University and co-author of "Elusive Equality: Desegregation and Resegregation in Norfolk's Public Schools," will give the talk and lead a civil-rights discussion as part of ODU's month-long observance of Black History Month.

His talk will begin at 11 a.m. in the Future Monarch Presentation Room (1102) of Webb Center. The program, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by ODU's Office of Intercultural Relations. Ford's presentation is part of a series of events being featured this month at the university in celebration of Black History Month.

The year marks the 60th anniversary of the historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. This landmark decision ended legal segregation in public schools and made way for further desegregation, pushing for racial equality in America. The success of this case served as a breakthrough moment not only in black history, but also in education in America.

Ford will reflect upon the triumphs and tragedies stemming from the decision's deliberately gradual implementation. His discussion will draw upon the research for his book, "Elusive Equality," to show how and why public school desegregation was such a drawn-out, contested affair, which was abandoned right after the brief moment that it had started to show results.

"Massive Resistance" and the school closures of the 1950s, following the success of the trial, posed many challenges for African Americans in Norfolk. Ford goes into detail in the book, analyzing how African Americans in Norfolk dealt with the initial racial backlash and its effect on the city's public school system at the time.

Ford's story relays a message of how the present "urban advantage" of desegregation enjoyed by African Americans in the Norfolk Public Schools doesn't excuse the periodic gaps and temporary setbacks endured by African Americans along the way.

Book sales and signing for "Elusive Equality" will immediately follow Ford's talk.

For more information about Black History Month at ODU, and other programming of the Office of Intercultural Relations, visit http://www.odu.edu/oir, email oir@odu.edu or call 683-4406.